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The LK separator in combination with ultrafiltration, splitting plants and LK tangential separator.

Efficient recycling of industrial water

In today’s plant engineering, understanding “non-monetary” facts from the environment, politics and economics is essential for effective and safe operation. This applies to new plants as well as existing technology. Changes in all areas require us, as operators as well as plant constructors, to reduce costs in conjunction with resource-conserving environmental protection.

The treatment of process water and industrial wastewater is an important contribution by companies to the issue of sustainability. By effectively removing oil, sludge, heavy metals and other pollutants, companies can not only reduce their environmental impact, but also save valuable resources.

Separators, filtration and splitting plants

Various processes are used to purify this wastewater. One of them is the use of LK separators in combination with ultrafiltration, cracking plants and LK tangential separators. The treatment is always “from coarse to fine”. To meet the specific requirements of each plant, these processes are used in various combinations. They can also be retrofitted to existing systems as required.

Separators are used in industry primarily where large quantities of wastewater are generated and high concentrations of pollutants are present. This is mainly the case for efficient separation of oil and dirt particles (solids) from wastewater and process water, especially finer particles.

LK separators with integrated oil extractor are manufactured on the basis of LGA System-H test certificates, normative regulations and 40 years of experience in application. Due to their classic cuboid design, they are very space-saving and can usually be easily integrated into existing systems.

Tangential separators are used for high sludge contents and heavy oils (graphite oil) or other difficult-to-separate oily compounds with a density of 0.90 g/cm³ or higher. The special effectiveness of
LK tangential separators
is based on their three-phase separation, consisting of light phase, clean water phase and sediment phase, as well as a double-acting oil extractor. The high design allows small footprints, which makes it possible to integrate the separator even in confined spaces. The purified water can then be directed from there to the next step in the purification process.

Another process, usually downstream of separation, is ultrafiltration. Here, the wastewater is pressed through a fine membrane.

An all-round clean project in the forging industry - LK's 2-stage ultrafiltration plant cleans heavily polluted wastewater

An all-round clean project in the forging industry

LK Metall supplies a 2-stage water treatment plant, overcomes the challenges and lays the foundation for future cooperation. The customer is a leading global supplier of constant velocity drive shafts for the automotive industry with a total of several thousand employees in 30 countries.

In 2016, LK is commissioned to design and implement a solution for the treatment of washing water and emulsions containing oil and graphite from the forge at the site in Rhineland-Palatinate.

The source of environmentally friendly water treatment

While the precursor separation plant separates the light and heavy phases from the wastewater, the ultrafiltration plant prepares the pretreated wastewater so that it can be fed into the public sewer system. The small amount of separated residual material is fed to the disposal route via a double-walled storage tank. Both plant sections are automated and communicate via an Ethernet interface. By linking the two plant sections, it was possible to operate both plants from spatially independent control panels and to monitor the operating states. The entire plant is equipped with a remote monitoring module that provides secure access to the plant’s control system. A fault and warning notification system informs the operator in real time by e-mail about the current plant status.

“Barrages” on the way

This is where the first challenge of the project arises. Although a total volume of 1,600 m³ per year of wastewater is generated, fluctuations and peaks in wastewater volumes must also be taken into account for the functionality of the systems. In particular, the adhesive properties of the graphite component have been crucial in the system design and selection of the MSR technology. Project engineer Jan Graeber of LK Metall explains the problem: “We already have to set up the planning so broadly that we can cover all eventualities.” In order to be able to channel the supply of the different wastewater streams and to realize a nearby location of the plant, it was decided to build a separate hall, especially for LK’s ultrafiltration plant.

The project comes into flow

After a previous on-site plant test and membrane test runs in LK’s laboratory, the project will be implemented within a few months in 2019. Here, LK Metall faces the second challenge: The installation site is located close to the Moselle River in a flood protection area. Therefore, the plants must be erected about 70 cm above the ground so that containers do not float and the technology is not damaged. Nevertheless, after the preparatory work, the team of fitters, electricians and programmers manages to complete the installation in two construction phases in a total of just seven weeks.

In order to ensure a coordinated start-up of operations and the required work output of the plants, the business partners agree on an accompanying phase starting in January 2020: For this purpose, the project engineer is personally on site, checks the smooth operation, determines that the desired values are correct and expresses his satisfaction: “The most beautiful thing about such a project is to see that the plants work as planned.” In order to ensure long-term operation, a service technician from LK Metall will be at the client’s site on a regular basis until the end of 2020 in order to be able to respond to unusual incidents.

The mouth in satisfaction

For the client, the success of the project has paid off: the new plant saves the company high disposal costs because the wastewater is suitable for indirect discharge. And it conserves water as a resource because the treated wastewater is easier to recycle. Not least for this reason, further projects are already being planned.